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Khanashin, or Khan Neshin, (other names: Khān Neshīn, Khannesin, Khan Nashin, Khān Nashīn, Khan Nashim, Khānnešīn) is a village located in the Rig District
Rig District
Rig District is a district in Ganaveh County, Bushehr Province, Iran. At the 2006 census, its population was 12,827, in 2,761 families. The District has one city: Bandar Rig....

 of Helmand Province
Helmand Province
Helmand is one of the 34 provinces of Afghanistan. It is in the southwest of the country. Its capital is Lashkar Gah. The Helmand River flows through the mainly desert region, providing water for irrigation....

, Afghanistan
Afghanistan , officially the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan, is a landlocked country located in the centre of Asia, forming South Asia, Central Asia and the Middle East. With a population of about 29 million, it has an area of , making it the 42nd most populous and 41st largest nation in the world...

 at 30.5494°N 63.7897°E at 642 altitude. It is close to the Helmand River
Helmand River
The Helmand River is the longest river in Afghanistan and the primarily watershed for the endorheic Sistan Basin....

 and 168 km southwest of Lashkargah
Lashkar Gah , historically also called Bost, is a city in southern Afghanistan and the capital of Helmand Province, located in Lashkar Gah district. It is situated between the Helmand and Arghandab rivers. Lashkar Gah is linked by highways with Kandahar to the east, Zaranj to the west, and Herat...


Rich Mineral deposits

The U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) estimates at least 1 million metric tonnes of rare earth element resources within the Khanneshin carbonatite in Helmand Province, Afghanistan. This estimate comes from a 2009-2011 USGS study funded by the Department of Defense’s Task Force for Business and Stability Operations (TFBSO).

The Khanneshin carbonatite contains a major potential source of light rare earth elements (LREE), such as lanthanum, cerium, and neodymium. The LREE prospects in the Khanneshin carbonatite are comparable in grade to world-class deposits like Mountain Pass, CA, and Bayan Obo in China, both of which primarily contain LREE.

The primary area of mineralization covers approximately 0.74 square kilometers (0.29 square miles). The USGS field team, led by Robert Tucker and Steve Peters, surveyed the extent of the mineralization using traditional geologic assessment techniques as well as remote-sensing analysis.

Between 2004 and 2007, USGS scientists working cooperatively with the Afghanistan Geological Survey of the Afghanistan Ministry of Mines compiled existing information about known nonfuel mineral resources and documented the potential for additional undiscovered resources through a preliminary country-wide mineral resource assessment.

That preliminary USGS resource assessment, published in 2007, included an estimate of about 1.5 million metric tonnes of potential rare earth element (REE) resources in all of southern Afghanistan. The newest estimate of about 1 million metric tonnes of LREE resources in just the Khanneshin carbonatite, completed with major assistance from the TFBSO, verifies the 2007 USGS prediction and confirms the unpublished work of Soviet scientists.

The Khanneshin REE evaluation is documented in a USGS report and will be also be included as part of a larger report by the USGS to be released later in 2011, which will include an updated evaluation of Afghanistan’s principal deposits of gold, silver, iron, copper, lead, zinc, phosphorus, and uranium.

The REE are a group of 15 metallic elements, with similar atomic properties and structures, which are essential components in a diverse and expanding array of high-technology and clean-energy products. Despite their name, they are relatively common within the earth’s crust, but are not often found in economically exploitable concentrations.

Rare earth elements are important ingredients in high-strength magnets, metal alloys for batteries and light-weight structures, and phosphors. These are essential components for many current and emerging alternative energy technologies, such as electric vehicles, photo-voltaic cells, energy-efficient lighting, and wind power. Products containing rare earth elements also are used in a number of key defense applications

More than 95 percent of global REE production now comes from China, which in 2010 exported approximately 30,000 metric tonnes of REE-products. New REE mines are being developed in Australia, and projects exploring the feasibility of economic production of other REE deposits are under way in the United States, Australia, and Canada.

In addition to high concentrations of the LREE, the deposit has significant concentrations of barium, strontium, phosphorus, and uranium.

The report is entitled “REE Mineralogy, Geochemistry, and Preliminary Resource Assessment of the Khanneshin Carbonatite, Helmand Province, Afghanistan” and may be accessed online. More on the Khanneshin carbonatite may be found online. The USGS also provides interactive maps and data on Afghan mineral research at the Afghanistan Minerals Information System.

Taliban presence

Khan Neshin became a Taliban insurgent stronghold in the years following the 2001 invasion.

Operation Khanjar

In July 2009, U.S. Marines from 2nd Light Armored Reconnaissance Battalion
2nd Light Armored Reconnaissance Battalion
2nd Light Armored Reconnaissance Battalion is a mechanized infantry battalion of the United States Marine Corps. Their primary weapon system is the LAV-25 and they fall under the command of the 2nd Marine Division and II Marine Expeditionary Force. The unit is based out of the Marine Corps Base...

established the first sustained presence of coalition forces in the southern Helmand River valley by entering the village of Khan Neshin after gaining the village elders' permission.